Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week

Image: Sotheby's

"Houdini Upside Down in the Water Torture Cell," lithographed poster offered at Sotheby's New York this week in the Ricky Jay Collection.

Here are the sales I'll be watching this week:

The Alexander Hamilton Collection of John E. Herzog will be sold at Freeman's on Monday, October 25. The 44 lots include a copy of Hamilton's 1790 report on the public credit of the United States, which could sell for $30,000–50,000. Estimated at $12,000–18,000 are a very rare copy of the law putting Hamilton's debt-assumption plan in place, and a January 12, 1794 letter from Hamilton to Thomas Willing, first president of the Bank of the United States. A copy of the "Reynolds Pamphlet" is estimated at $8,000–12,000.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, October 27–28, Sotheby's New York sells The Ricky Jay Collection, in 634 lots. A two-volume collection of some 460 annotated portrait prints of "Remarkable Characters, Male and Female, Beggars, Misers, Highwaymen, Cheats, Forgers, Imposters, Mountebanks, Bawds, Persons Tried for Treason, Sedition, &c." compiled by William Esdaile rates the top estimate at $100,000–150,000. A first edition of Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) could sell for $50,000–70,000. A color lithograph poster of "Houdini Upside Down in the Water Torture Cell" is estimated at $40,000–60,000. A pastiche drawing of Matthew Buchinger, one of Jay's major research interests, is expected to fetch $30,000–40,000.

Forum Auctions sells Books and Works on Paper on Thursday, in 297 lots. A copy of the 1809 edition of Hakluyt's Collection of the Early Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries of the English Nation rates the top estimate at £1,000–2,000. Thomas Chandler's 1771 pamphlet The Appeal Farther Defended bound with four additional New York pamphlets from the early 1770s could sell for £800–1,200. A copy of the first Aldine edition of Statius (1502) could sell for £600–800.

On Thursday at Swann Galleries, Fine Books & Autographs, in 212 lots. Robert Indiana's The Book of Love (1997) rates the top estimate at $100,000–125,000. A copy of the 1991 Nirvana album Nevermind, signed by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic on the paper insert, is estimated at $40,000–60,000.

Rounding out Thursday's sales is Comic Books: Pre-Code Horror, Golden Age, Silver Age & Undergrounds at PBA Galleries, in 400 lots. A copy of Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (August 1962) signed by Stan Lee and containing the first appearance of Spider-Man, is estimated at $10,000–20,000. A copy of Avengers No. 1 (September 1963) could sell for $6,000–9,000.